United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
Employment – ERISA — class actions
Where a retiree elected a lump sum at retirement, rather than a guaranteed annuity for life, his ERISA claim was properly dismissed.
“We interpret these provisions to mean that the Accrued Benefit—that which cannot be reduced retroactively by amendment—is the annuity, and that the lump sum, while a Retirement Benefit, is not the Accrued Benefit and therefore can be reduced retroactively. The term ‘Retirement Benefit’ encompasses all forms of benefits payment that a participant can choose, including the lump sum option that the plaintiff chose in lieu of the annuity. See Call v. Ameritech Management Pension Plan, 475 F.3d 816, 820-21 (7th Cir. 2007). Nothing in the plan forbids retroactively amending the discount rate used to calculate the lump sum benefit if the participant chooses the lump sum in preference to the annuity.”
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, Crabb, J., Posner, J.